5/9: Colston's Memorial, Bristol; we urgently need an alternative.
Since Colston's Memorial statue was heroically dislodged, dragged and dumped into Bristol Harbour in June (See video here), there has been little action from Bristol city Council other than to charge two of the protestors, remove an illegally elected alternative by Marc Quinn of Jen Reid, the Black Lives Matter activist stating " the substitute was “the work and decision of a London-based artist which was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed” and to propose a new plaque that places Colston's actions in to a historical context (although to contextualise his personal involvement in the enslavement of 84,000 humans and the death of 19,000 of those during transportation seems as offensive as the original memorial).
The statue should been removed before it came to the BLM demonstration; BCC had been petitioned for over 20 years to acknowledge that honouring Bristol's disgraceful mercantile past like this was problematic but now that its done the empty plinth is just begging for a relevant alternative. It is a matter of some urgency as the fact that the plinth is empty seems to be encouraging a movement to have the original stature reinstated : A recent petition was recently submitted to BCC for exactly that; fortunately only 60 people signed it, but one has to question their motives.
Hopefully BCC will initiate an open competition; not one where a short list of Artists is preselected by those who failed to take cation in the first place or a shortlisted of notable 'Bristol' artists, but a genuine open international competition to explore a cultural sensitive, inclusive statement.
In advance of this happening, I share my thoughts : An abstract sculpture where a light absorbing black cube ( Id like to persuade Anish Kapoor to loosen his grip on his monopoly on the use of Vanta Black in any art work) hovers over a veil of tears.
The proportions mimic the height of the original statue but is composed of two volumes each of 1m3; the volume deemed appropriate by slave traders to house a slave on a slave ship for a 3 month journey.
The tears would drip from the base of the cube and be recirculated using a solar power pump, lighting to the underside would create the effect of the cube floating.
The Vanta black cube would have the effect of appearing like a black hole: absorbing all light energy around it and reference the BLM Instagram page posted on Blackout Tuesday.
I wonder if I should set up a crowd funding scheme to kick the idea off!